4 of Your Biggest Questions Answered About Georgia Workers Comp
If you are hurt at work doing the job you were hired to do, or during the course and scope of your employment, and were not under the influence of alcohol, drugs or horse-playing, you have the right to pursue a workers’ compensation (WC or comp) claim for your injuries. This means that you will be able to get medical treatment for your injuries without paying any out of pocket expenses. Also, if you’re unable to work due to your injury, you will receive weekly compensation checks based on your earnings for the past 13 weeks so long as an authorized treating physician takes you out of work for more than seven (7) days.
Workers’ compensation law can be confusing and difficult to navigate. For example, if you don’t notify your employer of your injury within 30 days, you may not be eligible to pursue a comp claim. Additionally, if a year goes by without receiving treatment for your injuries, you may be unable to receive medical care under your workers’ compensation claim anymore.
Because worker’s compensation claims can be tricky, I am contacted every day by injured workers who are unsure how their comp claim will affect other areas of their lives. Here are a few of the most common questions I receive:
1) How does resignation or retirement affect my WC claim/benefits?
If you retire or resign your position with your employer, you have eliminated the requirement for the insurance company to pay you weekly income benefits. It is not recommended that you resign or retire without speaking to a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to determine how it could affect your claim.
2) How is my employer-sponsored group health insurance plan affected by the fact that I am now receiving WC weekly benefits and not a paycheck?
Most health insurance plans will not pay for medical treatment related to injuries you sustained on the job. However, you and your family are still eligible to receive health insurance from your employer while you are receiving workers comp benefits. It can get complicated when you pay for your health insurance from your pay check and are no longer receiving one because of your work injury. Typically, this varies by employer, so once again it is recommended to speak with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer.
3) Can I collect unemployment and WC benefits at the same time?
In some cases you can, but your unemployment benefits will offset your WC benefits. To receive unemployment in Georgia, you must be ready, willing and able to work, and you must be able to show you are trying to find a job within the light duty restrictions imposed on you by your doctor. You aren’t able to receive unemployment if you’re totally disabled. If you do qualify for unemployment and you are receiving WC benefit checks, your comp checks will be reduced by the unemployment benefits you are bringing in. If you receive both workers’ compensation checks and unemployment checks, and they are not reduced, you stand a chance of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier seeking credit from you for past benefits paid or future benefits owed.
4) How will the WC benefits that I receive affect my Social Security Disability benefits?
You can receive a weekly WC check and a monthly Social Security Disability Payment. Your weekly comp check will not be reduced by your social security payment, but your social security payment may be reduced while you’re receiving WC benefits. To receive your complete social security benefits, your total income cannot be more than 80% of what you were earning when you got hurt. Your total income, in this case, will include social security payments and comp payments. To prevent the loss of your social security payments, it may be necessary to seek a settlement on your WC claim. Instead of receiving weekly WC checks based on your old wage rate, you would now receive a smaller amount based on your cash settlement. However, when you settle your comp claim, you are no longer eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits or medical care.
As you can see, Georgia workers’ compensation claims can be tricky. Certain conditions apply, and each case is different, so if you have questions, you should speak with a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney immediately. It is important to hire a knowledgeable attorney to handle your claim to ensure it is handled in the best possible way. If you’re hurt and are unable to work, you can’t afford not to do so.
Be informed. Be aware. Be prepared.
Ty Wilson is a Georgia workers compensation attorney, with offices in Savannah and Atlanta, who provides free information to the injured and the families of the injured. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to order his FREE Georgia workers compensation “Special Reports” and to read his many articles and to watch his videos.
If you have specific questions for a workers compensation attorney in Georgia, give Ty at call 912-508-4711 in Savannah or 770-948-5454 in Atlanta.